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Some claim that roundabouts are much safer than current highway designs and push that we need them and bike lanes on Trinity Drive.
I analyzed the traffic-load impact on the entire town, not just Trinity Drive, with regard to traffic redistribution and safety, if Trinity is changed from four to two lanes, using information I requested of and obtained from the Los Alamos County traffic engineer and police department or drew from the CDM study.
My analysis can be found at: www.swcp.com/~jmw-mcw/LATrafficSafety.htm.
A synopsis of the analysis is that traffic flow data for east side traffic into Los Alamos in 2010 was 63 percent flowed on to Trinity, 35 percent on to Central Avenue and three percent on to Canyon Road.
A significant Trinity-DP Road load means that any decrease in Trinity traffic will have to be diverted before this intersection.
Traffic accident data for the last five years show that both major routes through town - Trinity Drive and Central-Canyon - have comparable numbers and thus do not indicate that one is more dangerous than the other.
There has been one fatality in the last 20 years and one hit bicyclist, both at the Diamond Drive intersection, in the last five years for each route.
The accidents/load for two-lane Central-Canyon and that for four-lane Trinity, however, show that the two-lane route through town has two times the accident/load of the four-lane route.
So, going from four lanes to two will not decrease traffic–related incidents.
Indeed, a higher density of vehicles per linear foot of road should lead to more incidents, not fewer; based on the Los Alamos data reported to me.
Assuming Trinity can handle two-thirds of its current load (possible?) - the remaining one third will have to go to Central and Canyon.
Large increases in traffic density (see the website for the analyses) on these streets could lead to dire consequences (Central: +3.2x; East Canyon: +6x; and West Canyon: +1.5x.) If Trinity can carry 80 percent of its current load, the impact on the other streets will be less, but still significant (Central: +1.2x; East Canyon: +2.4x and West Canyon: +1.3x.) With the new county headquarters, Central will have increase traffic unassociated with the Trinity situation and not likely to handle as much of the Trinity excess as I have given it, thus, East Canyon will be more heavily impacted!
A 1.3-1.5x increase in traffic at Canyon-Diamond will create substantially greater hazardous conditions for the heavy pedestrian school activity: parking, stadium, hospital, and Teen Center.
Thus, while a four-to-two lane change on Trinity may seem delightful to some, doing so will dramatically increase the loads elsewhere in the town and lead to greater risks for all citizens and visitors without a concomitant decrease in incidents on Trinity as the five-year incident data indicate that two lanes in Los Alamos are not safer than four lanes.
So, why is the county even considering dropping Trinity from four lanes to two lanes?
•They are placating less than 2 percent of the population at the expense of the other 98 percent. This is being done by decreasing overall safety downtown so a few (<100?) serious bicyclists can have biking turnpikes to and from the hospital and airport. Diamond bike lanes get sparse use; dedicated lanes on Trinity would get even less.
•Apparently, those who have significant control over traffic recommendations to our council representatives think that Los Alamos is anemic in crop-circles and needs some in spite of public opinion to the contrary.
The Diamond-San Ildefonso roundabout is often cited as the elixir solution. Trinity, however, would have none of the features that make D-SI work: primary input and output from four-lane Diamond with 40 percent of the vehicles never actually entering its roundabout portion. D-SI is not a good model for Trinity and would probably not even be satisfactory to those who espouse it, if all of the traffic actually entered the roundabout itself!
•A few citizens and committees are attempting to persuade the rest of us that the majority of the public actually favors two lanes with abundant roundabouts for Trinity.
Statisticians would LOL at the implication that small, - 100-participant, “public forums” that favor the two-lane with roundabouts approach by 58 percent means that the majority of citizens favors it.
These small groups and advisory committees are stuffed with special interest people; they are not statistical representations of the whole community.
Too many of the assemblages on this issue are dominated by those who are not satisfied with already having bike lanes on half of the roads headed east into downtown from Diamond, but greedily want Trinity furnished likewise.
So, where does this leave us? Apparently at the mercy of those who make decisions in spite of the potential negative impacts; unless they choose to reverse themselves.
The overall safety of its citizens should be of utmost concern to the county council. Five of the councilors moved to have Trinity reduced from four lanes to two with roundabouts.
If they made their decision by being told that a four-to-two lane decrease would not reduce the vehicle flow level on Trinity, would significantly improve safety and would not impact the rest of the town site, they are a gullible bunch.
Even with considerable, voiced opposition, recently and in the past, these five county representatives chose, for the record, to serve small special interests instead of the whole, mostly silent, community. Such behavior is imprudent. Citizens are now left to pay for and endure a project design that will not only inconvenience them, but put them at greater peril.
Is this what we citizens elected our councilors to do?
Joel M. Williams